Belated Happy New Year

I said earlier that I do not like setting New Year’s Resolutions because usually they are not kept. But, how can you enter into the New Year without making Resolutions?

I made a pact with my friend Helene who lives in Canada and has Finn (formerly Torch) as well as three other BCs. We are going to maintain on-line training logs (Helene’s will be private, I think I will maintain mine here as I have been). If Helene doesn’t keep hers up, I’m to give her grief and she’ll do the same to me. We’ll see how it goes. My other Resolutions are to keep my house, inside and out neater and more orderly.

You really don’t need to train Border Collies a lot on a daily basis. They soak up training like sponges and retain what they’ve learned. Why, on some days, I can’t squeeze fifteen minutes out of a day to train each dog is beyond me. There are times when it seems like an insurmountable undertaking. I guess I’m just lazy.

I trained Gel yesterday, January 1, 2008. Went over to Wally’s and worked the adult ewes. I had him over there on Sunday working on driving, in the rain. The light bulb went on and it was a beautiful thing to see! He finally figured out there was a reason to drive the sheep away from me. Driving can be one of the most difficult things to teach a Border Collie. In general, Border Collies are gatherers. To push the sheep away from you is totally against their nature.

We were working in a good-sized, fenced-in pasture. At first, we drove the sheep up and down the fence line. Once Gel figured out the sheep were not going to get away (or, more likely, the sheep figured out they were not going to get away, Gel settled down and drove nicely). Then I sent Gel on an outrun and let him fetch the sheep to me. I had him do a post turn and then drive the sheep back out, on an angle, into one corner of the pasture or the other. Once the sheep were in the corner, I flanked him around and let him fetch the sheep back. It was a very successful training session.

Yesterday it didn’t work quite so well, likely because I had the sheep in a different pasture with a lot of escape routes. Also, Monday night, Gel pulled up a bit lame in the front end. He was more than willing to work, but I could see he was still a bit stiff on that leg, so I ended the training session earlier than I wanted to. I did start out the session using only whistle commands and except for one wrong flank, he took all his commands via whistle.

Today I am home sick with the flu. I could feel it coming on last night. After working Gel on sheep, I came home and did a lot of cleaning and organizing. Last week, I broke down and bought a Dyson vacuum cleaner off e-Bay. It is phenomenal! It is amazing how much dirt is left behind with a regular vacuum cleaner. I organized, vacuumed and washed the floors. It felt so good to have a really clean house! Unfortunately, my clean house was done at the expense of a training session with Fern who had way too much time to herself.

It’s very cold out today, about 30 degrees at 2:00 PM with high winds. I am in the living room with a pile of cats around me and a kerosene heater going. Very, very toasty!

I did get some training sessions in on both dogs today. First I worked Fern on contacts, then on lie downs. She readily offers to sit, but I had not worked much on lie downs. She now offers lie downs. After that training session, I worked on targeting to a plastic lid. She’s such an enthusiastic learner! After I put Fern up, I asked Gel to touch the target. I haven’t done target training on him for well over a year. He remembered to touch the target with his nose, but picked it up off the floor and presented it to me. Gel is in training to be my service dog when I get to old to bend over to pick up stuff on my own. He’s trained to pick up anything I ask him to.

Later on today, I plan to work on stays with Fern and I might go out and do a short training session on sheep with Gel. As I write this, the sheep are out of their pen to roam around and eat where they want. I need to keep a close eye on them because they sometimes escape off this property and go down into the back pastures. As cold as it is and as bad as I feel, I don’t want to go sheep hunting today.